The working of memory cannot be reduced to just a single explanation

The working of memory cannot be reduced to just a single explanation. It is composed of various interrelated systems. In 1968, the Atkinson-Shiffrin Model of Memory was proposed. It stated a three-stage model of memory. Information, which was recorded by an individual’s sensory system, enters sensory memory which holds the information momentarily. The information then moves to short-term memory, where it is stored for 15 to 25 seconds. And finally, the information moves to long-term memory where it is relatively permanent. The amount and kind of rehearsal of the information determines whether the information will move from short-term memory to long-term memory, or not (Feldman, 2004).
A person’s working memory last only for a short period of time wherein information can be manipulated. It also has limitations that when exceeded could lead to memory loss. Distraction is one of the hindrances that could affect recall ability. It sways people’s attention leading to loss of information (Gatherway ; Alloway, 2007).
Based on the phonological loop it deals with the storage of verbal and auditory information; the visuospatial sketchpad stores spatial and visual information; and the central executive acts as a mediator between LTM and WM and primarily divides attention between the different activities that the person is performing, for example recalling visual stimuli that is presented to a person while listening to a background music (Baddeley ; Hitch, 1974). This is indicative of the central executive’s attempt at ignoring “irrelevant” information (e.g visual stimuli to be recalled). WM model of Baddeley & Hitch (1974), is important in explaining the connection between the development of recall accuracy, age, and speech rate. Further investigation led Baddeley to re-consider WM by adding the episodic buffer to its composition which he believes he provides more storage as well as enabling a connection with LTM, however, he admits the full extent of the episodic buffer is not yet known (Baddeley et al., 2009). Furthermore, even though the WM has been extensively studied, there is not much evidence of its function for music (Williamson, Baddeley, & Hitch, 2006). There is, neuroscientific evidence emerging to suggest that the cortical areas that are typically related to storage and rehearsal of WM are also active when a person is listening to music (Brown, Martinez, Hodges, Fox, & Parson, 2004). Hulme and Tordoff (1989) studied the acoustic similarity on series recall and their findings suggest support for Baddeley and Hitch’s WM model. Hulme and Tordoff (1989) suggested the development of the articulatory loop.
Crawford and Stankov (1983) point out individual differences in recall ability. It focused on primacy and recency effects and the cognitive abilities that are linked. The finding suggest that primacy effect is related to procession speed, with higher speed of processing leading to greater recall of the first few items in a list. Hulme and Tordoff (1989) investigated the effects of speech rate, word length, and acoustic similarity on serial recall. The results from their study suggest that recall accuracy increases with age, corresponding with increased speech rate. Krueger and Salthouse (2011) examined the recall ability of words based on different list sections of those words. In this study, they dealt with serial position effect which is identified but the first and last sections of a list being better recalled than the middle sections. This is in turn broken into the primacy effect, where the first items on a list are better recalled, and the recency effect, where the last items are better recalled.
A study of Singh (2006) says that individual memory is seemingly the more untouched and somehow neglected aspect of efforts to develop effective learning solutions. Several psychoanalytical studies have been conducted in the past to understand the process of learning and retention. One such study, the Serial Position Effect Theory, attempts to describe the phenomenon of retention and decay of memory. The study postulates the effect of “Primacy” and “Recency” on the retention of information in the memory and similar patterns are observed across all samples of the test population. The theory states that the information presented most recently are more likely to be retained in the memory that the information presented in between.
Omotayo (2013) concluded that forgetting or memory loss refers to apparent loss of information already encoded and stored in an individual’s long-term memory. It is a spontaneous or gradual process in which old memories are unable to be recalled from memory storage. Problems with remembering, learning and retaining new information are a few of the most common complaints of older adults. Many different factors influence the actual process of forgetting. Omotayo (2013) also added an example of one of these factors could be the amount of time the new information is stored in the memory. Events involved with forgetting can happen either before or after the actual memory process. The amount of time the information is stored in the memory, depending on the minutes hours or even days, can increase or decrease depending on how well the information is encoded. Studies show that retention improves the increased rehearsal. This improvement occurs because rehearsal helps to transfer information into long term memory.
Failing to retrieve an event does not mean that this specific event has been forever forgotten. This could just mean the information was not encoded well. Research has shown that there are a few health behaviors that to some extent can prevent forgetting from happening so often. One of the simplest ways to keep the brain healthy and prevent forgetting is to stay active and exercise. Staying active is important because overall it keeps the body healthy. When the body is healthy the brain is healthy and less inflamed as well. Older adults who were more active were found to have had less episodes of forgetting compared to those older adults who were less active (Omotayo, 2013).
Trace decay theory as stated by Omotayo (2013) explains that memories that are stored in both short term and long-term memory system. According to this theory, short term memory can only retain information for a limited amount of time, around 15 to 30 seconds unless it is rehearsed. If it is not rehearsed, the information will start to gradually fade away and decay. Donald Hebb proposed that incoming information causes a series of neurons to create a neurological memory trace in the brain which would result in change in the morphological and chemical changes in the brain and would fade with time. Repeated firing causes a structural change in the synapses. Rehearsal of repeated firing maintains the memory in STM until a structural change is made. Therefore, forgetting happens as a result of automatic fading of the memory trace in brain. This theory states that the events between learning and recall have no effects on recall; the important factor that affects is the duration that the information has been retained. Hence, as stated by Omotayo (2013), as longer time passes more of traces are subject to decay and as a result the information is forgotten. One major problem about this theory is that in real-life situation, the time between encoding a piece of information and recalling it, is going to be filled with all different kinds of events that might happen to the individual.
According to Wesson (2012), while memory cannot occur without learning, once information has been learned, our memory may allow the learning to decay. Occasionally, memory will unintentionally play a bit loose with the truth regarding what was previously learned. In accordance to Robertson (2012), interference between memories may be due to an overlap between otherwise independent systems. Any overlap need not be complete because declarative memories may only interfere with a specific component of a procedural memory. The concept of an overlapping architecture explaining the interference between different memories is appealing because human functional imaging studies have demonstrated that brain areas such as the MTL are activated during both declarative and procedural learning, and so there is experimental evidence for an overlap between declarative and procedural processing. Thus, interference could arise from a competition between declarative and procedural processing for a shared overlapping resource. However, several recent studies have started to challenge the classical idea that memory interference arises from a competition between memories. In the case of the researcher’s study, music is tested if it’s a form of distraction.
According to Thorne (2009), the memory demands for school-age children are much greater than they are for adults. As adults, we have already acquired much of the knowledge and skills we need to function day to day. Although the knowledge base for some fields such as technology changes rapidly, the new information is generally highly specific and builds on existing knowledge. On the other hand, school children are constantly bombarded with new knowledge in multiple topic areas in which they may or may not be interested. Additionally, they are expected to both learn and demonstrate the mastery of this knowledge on a weekly basis. Thus, an effective and efficient memory is critical for school success.
Others may find music distracting while studying while some may enjoy it and even play it out loud. If the latter is true, the researchers aim to know which of the music genres is more conducive for retrieving memory.